Asia Closes Lower, Europe Mixed

European markets were mostly flat, pulled down by Wall Street's decline on lower leading indicators

European stock markets were mixed on Thursday as Wall Street headed south as data from the Conference Board's index of leading indicators fell 0.3%, the first decline in two months, reflecting a weak dollar, higher energy prices and business caution. The weaker-than-expected index offset a good jobs report and strong results from Wal-Mart and HP. In London, the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 gained 4.20 points, or 0.08%, to close at 5057.40. The FTSE closed a touch higher following another round of trading statements, with Reed Elsevier particularly upbeat. Wall Street opened lower due to a fall in the U.S. leading Indicators. At home, publishing group Reed Elsevier led the FTSE100 as it reported fiscal year profits of 1.027 billion pounds and said it had expected 5% organic revenue growth in 2005. Cairn Energy also jumped after saying that gross production in 2005 is likely to exceed that of 2004, given new drilling programmes recently commenced in the Sangu and Lakshimi gas fields. Beverage firm Diageo reported first-half profits of 1.235 billion pounds and earnings per share of 29 pence. Elsewhere, mmO2 rose on growing positive sentiment after several brokers recently increased their target prices. Finally, BP and Shell profited on WTI's crude price rally.

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